19/04/2017 18:16:00 (GMT)
The legal profession has a bit of a reputation for being slower to adopt new technology than some other sectors. However, the benefits that Data Science can bring are starting to be realised by some of the largest law firms in the world.
The first areas to be effected were mostly focused on marketing and billing solutions. However, the latest trends appearing in the legal profession are aimed at applying Data Science to the fundamental research that goes into case preparation.
Using Natural Language Processing (NLP) it is possible to train a machine to understand and derive meaning from text based documents. In the case of law firms this can prove useful when the need arises to determine if a document is relevant to a case or not. Going one step further this technology can be applied to case strategy decisions. For example, the processing of documents relating to past cases and court decisions can help detect trends that can help give direction when planning a case. One such trend might be to give insight about opposing law firm's strategies. Another might be to highlight the best approaches for arguments that are able to convince certain judges. All of this information and more can prove invaluable to companies in the legal profession and can even give weight to moderating client's expectations.
Already larger law firms around the world are reaping the benefits of Data Science and the analytic insights it can provide. They are able to offer their clients an improved service and at a better price. Corporate clients are often no longer happy to pay large hourly rates only for most of those billable hours to be used up by legal assistants or junior solicitors who are doing routine work. Automating tasks that can be done by machines not only saves time but can also mean charging a client less without compromising on quality. The New York Times recently quoted McKinsey and Company as reporting that with the technology available today it is already possible to automate 23% of a lawyer's job.
Taking things a whole step further there are even ways of automating certain legal services from start to finish. A website called DoNotPay is dedicated to helping clients appeal against parking tickets. This is a fully automated process where the user is asked a series of questions relating to their case by a chatbot. Based on the answers given to those questions the chatbot generates a letter that can then be filed with the appropriate appeals department or agency. They have recently expanded the service to aid clients with acquiring compensation from airlines and filing for housing assistance from the government. To date the company has helped over 200,000 people.
Today people are growing more conscious about their jobs being replaced by machines. However, while some jobs will become obsolete over the coming decades rather than resist the change it is possible to shift the focus of some jobs to the more important tasks that can only be carried out by humans and think of technology and Data Science as a way to augment and enhance the service that can be provided.